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  1. Phil

    Good morning! 

    That last oil entry was a bust (now $95.75) and, of course, tomorrow is inventories but the same weather that kept people out of stores may have kept them out of gas stations so I'm not expecting a bullish one.  Still, we don't touch the .25 lines this early in the cycle and they are clearly going for $96 on /CL so we better let them and then see what happens.  $95.75 is about where we pressed our USOs yesterday and we're back to 10 so we can roll up and do it again if we have to.  

    In general, we're looking strong again and, once the S&P is back over the 1,560 line – there's nothing to do BUT be bullish for the duration.  

    Case-Shiller is going like gangbusters, with the 20-City Composite up 8.1% from last year.  Keep in mind that means, if you buy a $300,000 home and put $60,000 down on a 4% mortgage, your monthly payments are about $1,500 and, at the end of the year, your home is worth $24,000 more than you paid for it.  THAT is how you drive people back to the housing market at a rapid pace because that buyer tells two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on….

    Don't forget, regular people can't play stocks, options, commodities futures… to hedge against inflation – for most people,  their home is their only investment and, once you string together a couple of 8% years and people begin to refinance their homes and buy nice cars that they show off to their family and neighbors as they make fun of them for being too scared to buy a home in 2010 or 2011 – that's how you get that stampede into housing going.

    Also, people who are thinking of buying homes tend to browse all the time and when they see homes they like rising in prices and getting snapped up quicker and quicker – it motivates them to get on board before the train leaves the station.  This is a great formula for building a sustainable base under our rally so we'll watch those builder reports very closely but it's still very early innings if we're going to have a proper housing recovery, of course.  

    As you can see from the above chart – we're still so far from even that 8% a year is nothing so it's our game to lose at this point – it would take a pretty good shock to derail the rally when you consider there are still so many people trapped in underwater mortgages (keeping homes off the market) and so many people who have put off moving for years as we work through the crisis but are getting ready now and so many households that were not created (recent college grads mostly) as that market fell apart and, as noted above, now the own vs. rent calculation has shifted back to own in a big way – a perfect recipe to continue the rally in housing for the foreseeable future.  

    At the open: Dow +0.42% to 14509. S&P +0.46% to 1559. Nasdaq +0.44% to 3250.

    Treasurys: 30-year -0.29%. 10-yr -0.17%. 5-yr -0.08%.

    Commodities: Crude +0.96% to $95.72. Gold -0.51% to $1598.35.

    Currencies: Euro +0.07% vs. dollar. Yen +0.21%. Pound +0.17%.

    10:00 Consumer Confidence
    10:00 State Street Investor Confidence Index
    10:00 Richmond Fed Mfg.
    10:00 New Home Sales
    1:00 PM Results of $35B, 2-Year Note Auction

    Market preview: Stocks look poised to open higher after a batch of better-than-expected economic reports point to an ongoing recovery. Durable goods orders climbed 5.7% in February, and the January Case-Shiller home price index soared to its biggest annual increase in six years. European bourses are mostly higher. Still ahead: consumer confidence, new home sales, Richmond Fed.

    "At no point is it possible to bail-in depositors below €100K, now or in the future," Reuters reports an EU Commission statement as saying (never mind this is precisely what was attempted in Cyprus last week). It's not our job to evaluate Dijsselbloem's comments on Cyprus, the EU adds. "Dijsselbloem was wrong," says the ECB's Benoit Coeure. "Cyprus isn't a model."

    With traditional housing inventory shrinking to scarce levels, housing bears hang their hats on the so-called "shadow inventory," but that too is disappearing with CoreLogic reporting this potential supply off 18% Y/Y in January to 2.2M units vs. about 2M existing homes currently available for sale. 

    Friend of the Devil:  Warren Buffett (BRK.B) becomes a long-term investor in Goldman Sachs, agreeing to amend his warrant agreement to accept shares for any difference between the $115 exercise price and the value of the stock on Oct. 1, 2013. Buffett: "We intend to hold a significant investment in Goldman Sachs." GS +1.4% premarket. (PR)

    Opinions on retail sales are differing with today's Redbook report on chain store sales indicating consumers are stocking up on spring goods while ISCS-Goldman warned earlier that a batch of winter storms is keeping sales of spring goods lower. The contradicting views follows a familiar path in retail with some analysts seeing the glass half-full (consumer confidence up) and others half-empty (paychecks lower). The tale of the tape shows retail mildly underperforming broad market indexes: S&P Retail ETF (XRT) +7.6% YTD vs. S&P 500 +8.8%.

    Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.ARDS.B) says it received approvalfrom the Chinese government for its first shale gas production-sharing contract in China. Shell plans to spend $1B exploring, developing and producing shale gas with partner China National Petroleum in the Fushun-Yongchuan block in the Sichuan basin. 

    As gold miner (GDX) prices fall, company insiders are buying at their fastest pace in years, according to INK Research, which sees seven precious metals stocks on the Toronto Exchange with buyers for every one with sellers. "That is the type of insider buying we saw in the broad market during the height of the great financial crisis."

    When Elon Musk tweets, do people listen? Shares of Tesla Motors (TSLA) are still holding up even though the electric vehicle automaker's CEO tipped off a potential secondary offering of stock yesterday. Though effusive confidence by a CEO is a nice touch, some traders are warning that Tesla's stock price is looking even riskier with the latest development. Look for Elon Musk to give some enticing details on development of the Model X to help smooth over any news of a capital raise. TSLA +0.2% premarket to $37.60.

    "The big opportunity over the next two years is the low-end phone market," Gene Munster tells Bloomberg, expecting Apple's (AAPL) earnings growth to return in H2 and reiterating his Buy rating on the stock. Munster sees just a modest increase in the dividend – from $10.60 to $14 – and no bump in the buyback. Shares +0.3% premarket.

    Apple (AAPL -0.2%) roundup: 1) Oppenheimer is cuttingFY13 and FY14 estimates. "Much of the revision appears built into investor expectations … However, we also don't see much of a [near-term] positive catalyst until we get closer to the product cycle or get more clarity on Apple's cash intentions." 2) Apple reportedly plans to triple the number of Apple Premium Reseller stores in India to ~200 by 2015. The report comes as Apple's Indian sales start to accelerate. 3) The Next Web takes a look at the complex technologies used by acquisition target WiFiSLAM to master indoor mapping/positioning. (Gene Munster)

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